Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/694/13149
Southampton - opposing all the cuts
Southampton council workers have been at the forefront in recent months in fighting savage pay and job cuts by the Tory council. On 30 November, as on 30 June, they will be joined by thousands of others in action by trade unions across the public sector.
Increasingly the question being asked is what is the alternative to cuts? What can we do to build support for such a campaign? Socialist Party members in Southampton have put a clear and consistent approach, supported by many in the unions, that we must build a united movement by opposing all cuts.
But what is becoming increasingly clear to many on strike is that while the Tories are carrying out the cuts, New Labour neither supports the strikes nor opposes the cuts. Richard Williams, leader of Southampton Labour group has said that if elected in May 2012 Labour would carry out massive cuts of its own.
While the Tories are rightly in the line of fire, at the mass meeting following Williams' comments, anger was also directed at New Labour from growing numbers of council workers.
At the strike rally on 13 July, Ian Woodland, Unite regional officer stated: "We will oppose the cuts, whoever makes them."
Nationally, Labour leader Ed Miliband showed his true colours opposing strike action on 30 June and more recently, stating that a future New Labour government would not reverse Tory cuts.
It is therefore vital that socialists challenge this view that cuts are necessary or inevitable, both within the trade unions but also politically.
In Southampton, 13 Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates, standing in the local elections in May 2011, argued the case against cuts and in full support of the council workers' strike. TUSC candidates received over 1,800 votes, a very positive response. This represented one TUSC vote for every ten Labour votes, something for Labour to look over its shoulder at.
Southampton TUSC met recently to discuss the May 2012 council elections. Clearly it is vital to offer a political alternative to cuts and stand in all 16 wards in the city.
However not all socialists in Southampton have adopted this position. At the Southampton TUC organising meeting for the 30 November strike, Socialist Workers Party (SWP) member Bobby Noyes, chairing the meeting, obstructed any criticism of New Labour locally or nationally, saying this was not relevant! Local SWP members have argued that support should be given to the trade union campaign for New Labour.
We need to ensure there is full democratic debate in all trade union and anti-cuts meetings. We must build a successful united campaign against cuts.
Southampton Socialist Party rally
Fight the Cuts, Fight for Socialism
Tuesday 6 December, 7.30pm
Sir James Matthews Building, Above Bar, Southampton, SO14 7NN
Speaker: Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary
In The Socialist 16 November 2011:
Fighting the cuts
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
The Socialist - Readers' comments